Yonder Mountain String Band
@ Jam In The Dam, Amsterdam
I didn’t see as much of Yonder Mountain as I might have – there are tough decisions and scheduling clashes at every festival but I’ve seen them a few times before too. Yonder (see – that name is just too long….) are definitely unusual. Number one: They come from Nederland, Colorado. Number two – singer and mandolin player Jeff Austin could not play the mandolin when he joined and was just asked to “play fast and loud” (now he is in two bands). Three: They are described as “progressive bluegrass” on Wikipedia. Four: They don’t have a drummer, a drum machine or anyone batting a hollow thing with sticks anywhere on stage. Instead, they boast a mandolin, a banjo, a bass and a guitar.
A line-up like that makes them a bit less dance-orientated than they might be but a hard-core of fans who’ve flown over show people how it’s done. The band flit between traditional songs and their own material, sometimes keeping it short, sometimes stretching out for a quarter hour, working through the variations of a tune. They’re big on interplay, listening carefully and weaving patterns in and out of each other’s parts in a musical knot. The bass is lovely and warm, while the banjo and mandolin combo keep most things jiggy. Sometimes they play something lonesome and sad but mostly they celebrate and party.
Yonder Mountain String Band are a band it’s easy to like.
More from 2010’s Jam In The Dam on Vanguard Online:
Jam In The Dam intro - March 2010
dB 30 - March 2010
Les Claypool - March 2010
The Bridge - March 2010
New Mastersounds - March 2010
Umphrey’s McGee - March 2010